A while ago I wrote about how corporate wellbeing has changed during the last 10 years, from a ‘nice-to-have’ into a ‘must-have’. Today having energetic employees and a healthy organisation is a competitive requirement. But what can you do as a leader to ensure your company stays on top, rather than lags behind?
One thing is clear now that Covid-19 has been with us for more than a year and a half: mental recovery and wellbeing are more important than ever. Already prior to Covid-19, the World Health Organization estimated that mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety, cost the global economy $1 trillion per year in lost productivity. If 10 years ago companies wanted to minimise their employees visits to mental health professionals – thinking less visits is a sign of higher wellbeing – now the leading companies take the measures needed to keep their teams functional and performing.
A healthy organisation is a high-performing organisation. To stay on top, what should you do differently than before?
1. Individualise the support
In the past wellbeing programs did not find their audience. The healthy ones joined and the ones needing the support the most did not participate. You need to find individual solutions. For some it is still gym vouchers. For others it is mental coaching. And for someone else time management. You need to look at the root causes of possible issues and provide tools that the employees are ready to take into use. Make sure you don’t fall into the 7 sins of wellbeing washing, where your initiatives are all talk and no impact.
2. Support the managers to support their teams
During crisis people turn to their managers for clarity and support. More and more of managers’ time goes to coaching their teams. They need to have tools to spot the syndromes of e.g., stress and processes to refer their team members further when needed. And they need the support, too. Being a manger is hard. They too need a place to be vulnerable and to be energised. One of Hintsa’s Core Mentors, psychologist Suzy Madge recently wrote a great piece on managers fighting fatigue, in both themselves and their employees.
3. Be a role model
Nothing ruins a good initiative like a nonchalant dismissing comment from the top. Leaders need to show example. And highlight how they take care of themselves. We all have our own way. Here’s an interview where our CEO, Annastiina Hintsa shares her ways.
4. Communicate, communicate, communicate!
A wise communications leader once told me that one cannot even think that a message has been received unless it has been repeated 17 times. We need to be patient and clear in the organisation. Clear of our values. Clear of what we reward. How support is provided when something goes wrong. What the targets are. What is expected of each and everyone. Nothing is more stressful than a situation where high demands come as a surprise. If a person knows rough seas are ahead, they can decisively step aboard. But surprises, they kill the energy.
5. Focus on the human
During this strange period of time that we are living in, the role of compassion has become bigger than ever. Understanding that each of us processes the crisis in our own way and at our own speed. We should all learn to genuinely ask: “How are you?” And when asked, be safe in giving an honest answer. And finally, we need to be compassionate towards ourselves. When stress is high, the bar cannot be as high as usually. At least not all the time.